It is not necessarily that the Buffalo Bills could not stop Chris Johnson last Sunday. It is that they did not do all they could to stop him.
“Buffalo was trying to protect their secondary and played a lot of coverage to help those guys,” Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Chris Palmer said. “… When people don’t want us to run and they put eight men in the box, I don’t know if there’s a team in this league that can win consistently running the ball against an eight-man front, it’s just too difficult.”
Ultimately, Johnson ran for 195 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries against Buffalo, which currently rates as the NFL’s worst run defense. That performance earned him the AFC Offensive Player of the Week award.
Sunday, when the Titans host the Indianapolis Colts (noon, CBS), he gets a crack at another suspect run defense. The Colts enter the week 26th in the league in rushing yards per game allowed (one spot behind the Titans) but seventh in passing yards per game allowed.
“We have to go in there and do our job,” Johnson said. “We have to execute our offense and I feel like if we execute our plays I don’t feel like any defense around the NFL will be able to stop us.”
Maybe not. The numbers tend to side with his play-caller.
Each of Tennessee’s first six opponents rank among the league’s top half in run defense and four — San Diego (second), Houston (fifth), New England (eighth) and Pittsburgh (ninth) — are among the top 10.
In those contests Johnson rushed for 301 yards on 92 carries without a touchdown. Even after Sunday’s performance, which accounted for 39.3 percent of Johnson’s current season total, the Titans are 28th in rushing offense.
Johnson’s unwavering belief in himself and his teammates is no surprise, though.
“He’s always confident, no matter what,” Palmer said. “That hasn’t changed. He’s a confident young man. He believes in his talent. You want guys like that. You don’t want guys that are doubting themselves.”
• On the move: The Titans have seen their share of Reggie Wayne over the years. This time, they will have to look for the Indianapolis wide receiver in some different places.
“He’s not … a single-side receiver where you can double-[team] him,” Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray said. “… They’re moving him around. They’re scheme is to not let you isolate on him.”
Playing in a new offensive scheme for the first time, Wayne has more receiving yards through six games (666) than in any of his previous 11 seasons. He is second in the league in receiving yards and fourth in receptions (47). At 33 years old, his 14.2-yard average surpasses his career average 13.6
All-time, he has caught 90 passes against the Titans. His best game in the series was Sept. 19, 2004, when he caught seven passes for 119 yards and a touchdown.
• Status quo: The day’s good news on the injury front was that, according to Munchak, middle linebacker Colin McCarthy felt no worse than he did a day earlier after having completed an entire workout. Not wanting to take chances, coaches and trainers kept McCarthy out of Thursday’s practice session.
“He’s OK,” Munchak said. “… We thought [Friday], when it’s more red zone and some things, we’d have him out there and go from there. He should be in good shape for Sunday.”
Other Titans who did not practice: Special teamer Patrick Bailey (hand/ribs), cornerback Tommie Campbell (ankle), running back Javon Ringer (knee), tackle Michael Roos (appendectomy) and linebacker Will Witherspoon (hamstring). Quarterback Jake Locker practiced on a limited basis.
• Briefly: Matt Hasselbeck’s next touchdown pass will be the 200th of his career. It will make him the 32nd player all-time and one of just four active players to reach that mark. The Colts are 0-2 and have been outscored 76-30 on the road this season. … Jason McCourty’s next interception will be his third of the season, a career-high. It also will give him one more than any Tennessee player had in all of 2011. … Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney, one of 26 players in NFL history with at least 100 career sacks, has 13 against the Titans. The only team against which he has more is Houston (15.5).